St. Nicholas Church in Mala Strana.
This had been just down the block from us but from the outside it was just another building in this town of buildings. This morning we thought “why not” and ventured in. I have not often been struck dumb by a church but this one almost took me to the knees. I read later that this had been expressly designed to overwhelm unbelievers with the power of Rome. I believe it. (Here this was one of a number of impressive churches; if in Edmonton, people would have flown in from all corners of our continent to take a look).
Not only was this astonishing in its size and artistry but it was difficult to imagine the effort that must have gone into its construction. The sheer volume of marble -there must have been some accidents and then subsequent replacement from far away. I suspect that the skills that went into creating this wonder no longer exist. And then to think of this in the most mundane of all terms -cost; perhaps a billion dollars? Obviously priceless as history.
A colleague of mine said that when he saw these magnificent structures now, he could only think of how many people the same resources might have fed or housed. I can’t think that way. This seemed to me money well spent. This was something that would last much closer to forever than many of the works of man. Feed people instead of going to war but there is something to be said for lasting public monuments (one shudders to think of a world without the pyramids Egyptian or Mayan, and without buildings like this). Bread alone is no legacy at all.